Since the launch of YouTube in the year 2005, online videos have become omnipresent. On an average day, over 89 million Americans watch a combined total of 1.2 billion online videos. A patient who is about to enter your medical practice for a procedure or who needs to learn about how to take care of themselves at home after a procedure will likely turn to an online video for help – and this is a good thing. It means that they want to learn more about their diagnosis and they are likely to become more actively involved in their own self-care / recovery. Unfortunately, the internet contains so many videos that it can be difficult to differentiate the questionable ones for the credible ones. This is where you come in.
To date, over 700 hospitals and medical centers in the United States maintain their own YouTube channels. By taking full advantage of your online presence and making educational videos for your patients on your own channel, you can help them find the credible, quality health-related information they need. Educational videos can be effective tools for teaching patients what you know, controlling the message, and conveying information in a vibrant way. They are particularly appealing to visual and auditory learners. In fact, a recent study was conducted to view the impact of health videos on patient education. The authors found that health videos play an important role in getting patients engaged and interested in their own care. “Our paper materials need an overhaul and as physicians, we need to understand possible resources. There is a wealth of helpful information on the web that patients may truly benefit from. As providers, we need to spend some time finding out what’s available. I have a dream of a concise, easy-to-navigate, patient information portal for physicians. Not somewhere to print out booklets or pages, but somewhere to find a mix of information, infographics, and short videos geared towards patients,” wrote Danielle Jones, an obstetrics-gynecology resident.
While educational videos cannot replace in-hospital patient experiences, they are a great way to introduce patients to your practice and staff members, prepare them for an upcoming visit or help them in their own recovery. If you are a specialist, the videos can be related to conditions you treat or procedures you perform. In any case, you need to make sure to include what you do differently from other doctors. After all, most of you are targeting the same patient population and if you want to stand out, you need to customize patient messaging to meet your clinical goals and your patients’ needs.
Address to your audience what topic you will be discussing – a medical condition, procedure, treatment, self-care instructions, etc. From there, define the problem. For instance, if you are addressing a medical condition, then describe what it is and what symptoms it presents. Let the patient know what he or she can expect to see and feel. Next, explain how the condition is diagnosed - perhaps it is genetic. Let the patient know whether they should expect diagnosis through imaging, a blood test, biopsy or a type of invasive procedure. Will they require additional tests? How long will they have to wait for the test results? Will they require additional follow-up appointments? These are all questions that should be addressed. Finally, describe how the condition can be treated. What are the advantages and disadvantages to each treatment option? Are there any side effects or complications that can derive from the various treatment options? What should be expected during and after the chosen treatment is complete? You should also mention what will happen if the patient decides to refuse treatment or ignore your advice. It can even be effective to include patients’ success stories and have them provide testimonials of what they experienced before, during, and after treatment.
At the end of the video, you might want to consider including your name, phone number, email, website, and location of your practice. Let the patient know that you welcome any questions or concerns and you look forward to addressing them together face-to-face - should they decide to schedule an appointment. Most important, time yourself because the most effective video length is around 10-15 minutes. Any longer and the patient might lose their concentration or choose to end the video. A short video can be easier to process and the patient can watch it multiple times for reassurance.
Patient engagement is a delicate approach that requires balancing education and entertainment in order to educate patients, yet keep them intrigued while they learn. Here are some things to keep in mind while creating quality videos for patient education:
- Pay attention to lighting and sound;
- Choose an appropriate filming location;
- Dress appropriately;
- Prepare a script and practice it to gain confidence;
- Make sure your facts are accurate;
- Keep the content engaging and interesting;
- Include patient experiences or success stories – story-lines that are relatable;
- Have any props you may need on hand;
- Teach self-care skills or techniques through clear instructions and examples;
- Consider adding interesting features;
- Keep your video to the point;
- Make sure the content is compliant with the latest medical guidelines;
- Make sure the content is suitable for audiences with lower literacy;
- Request any feedback such as comments and suggestions from your audience;
- Watch other existing videos and see what you can do to make your video stand out;
- Review your analytics;
As a doctor, how many times have you told your patients something straightforward and had some of them return because they did not follow through with your advice? Unfortunately, this happens all the time and it can be frustrating, as well as puzzling. There are several reasons as to why a patient might not follow through with advice that they have received from you – perhaps out of fear, forgetfulness or not wanting to step outside of their comfort zone. In order to get patients to take your words seriously, they have to understand what they are required to do, why they are required to do it, and what could happen if they do not. They should not just be told, but rather they should be able to thoroughly comprehend what is said. This is where the benefits of educational videos can be seen:
1. Good customer service – With educational videos depicting your advice, explanations and demonstrations, patients can refer them to their family and friends. This, in turn, can increase your own and your practice’s reputation;
2. Enhanced comprehension – An educational video allows your patients to follow instructions and recognize when there is a gap in their understanding. If necessary, they can watch the video multiple times to review key points;
3. Increased retention - An educational video will allow your patients to go at their own pace and re-check their understanding. If they can remember why it is important, they are more likely to follow through with your advice, thereby increasing their confidence, retention, and compliance;
4. Increased patient targeting – The great thing about online educational videos is that they can bring prospective patients right to your door. 70% of individuals do research about a product or service before making up their minds. If you can reach an audience with your words and recommendations, you can increase your appointment bookings guaranteed;
The bottom line is that educational videos are a great way to attract new patients, educate existing patients, and increase patient compliance. They can save you much-needed time in answering common questions and explaining routine procedures. They can also improve your reputation, your practice’s reputation, as well as referrals. Still, creating quality educational videos is not as easy as it seems. It requires time and dedication as a majority of patients have trouble comprehending medical terms and concepts. Some patients absorb information better through visual form, some through audial form, some through written form, and some through oral form. While all patients’ learning approaches are unique, your main objective is to create compelling videos that will target and educate patients at different learning levels. Doing so can result in increased comprehension, retention, awareness, and better educated patients.
- Educational videos are a great way to introduce patients to your practice.
- Consider leaving your contact information at the end of a video.
- Don't make your video too long, or you will risk losing interest.